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NIHR public contributor payment policy


Published: 17 October 2022

Version: 4.0 - September 2022

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About this policy

This payment policy sets out how NIHR supports members of the public to be involved by rewarding and recognising them through payment and reimbursement of expenses. It sets out principles and methodology for a consistent and coordinated approach to the payment of public contributors within NIHR. This policy outlines payment rates for involvement in funding and prioritisation committees, involvement in reviews, and involvement relating to wider NIHR activities. Please note this policy does not cover payment for patients and the public involved directly in NIHR-funded research projects.

For further information on payment for involvement in research, specifically research projects, read the NIHR payment guidance for researchers and professionals, and the NIHR payment guidance for members of the public.


NIHR defines public involvement in research as research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them.

We mean the term 'public' in this context to include patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services. The term ‘public contributor’ is used throughout this document. This is an umbrella term NIHR uses to describe members of the public who take part in patient and public involvement activities.

Commitment to EDI

The NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all areas of our work. We recognise public contributors may encounter barriers to involvement. We will take steps to ensure we are as accessible and inclusive as possible. We want to increase the diversity of our public contributors and the voices heard in research, and may take positive action measures to resolve under-representation in this area.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help make our policy more inclusive or if a copy of this publication is needed in another format.


NIHR offers payment to public contributors who:

  • Are a member of the public and
  • Are being asked by NIHR to provide a public perspective and
  • Are not in receipt of a full time salary from public funds.

If someone works full time in the public sector* they may, by exception, still be entitled to payment of a fee provided that they confirm in writing that:

  • Their paid employment is unrelated to the activity being asked of them by NIHR and
  • They intend to undertake the activity for NIHR in their free time, such as through taking annual leave or outside of normal working hours.

*Any organisation run by the government and funded by tax-payers money can be classified as public sector. This includes local and national councils, NHS hospitals and clinics, emergency services, schools, and much more. The various departments of local government, for example, include a huge variety of jobs. Social services requires everything from administrators to counsellors, and from psychologists to statisticians. Councils and government-backed organisations often require marketing specialists, scientific consultants and political researchers (Source: Benefits Of Working In The Public Sector).

Principles of payment

Public contributors will be offered a payment when asked to get involved in a task such as reviewing a research funding application or attending a meeting. NIHR will also reimburse all reasonable expenses associated with involvement such as the costs of travelling to a meeting or the cost of a carer.

The payment rate will always be made clear from the outset when the involvement opportunity is offered, ideally in writing. The Rates of Payment section of this policy describes the different rates of fees that are offered for involvement in different activities.

These payments are a form of reward and recognition offered for the contribution that public contributors make to NIHR and to health and care research. This does not mean that public contributors have an on-going contract of employment with NIHR or any of the research programmes.

Tax and National Insurance

If a public contributor accepts payment for an involvement activity, they are personally responsible for ensuring the correct deductions of tax and National Insurance and to inform HMRC. NIHR does not deduct tax or National Insurance contributions from payments. If there are queries about employment status of public contributors, there is specific guidance on employment status.

Public contributors who receive state benefits

If a public contributor receives state benefits, payment of fees and expenses may affect their benefit claim. They should notify Jobcentre Plus of any paid or voluntary activity. They may also need permission to undertake any paid activity. Benefit conditions are complex and limits on payments that can be received without benefits vary widely. More information is available in our payment guidance for members of the public.

A Benefits Advice Service is provided by NIHR nationally, and is open to members of the public who are involved in, or considering involvement in research with the NIHR. To access the free, confidential advice through the Benefits Advice Service please email us.

NIHR is not able to offer expert advice about this issue, but should support anyone in the process of getting advice.

Rates of payment

NIHR public contributors are involved in a wide range of tasks. The payment offered will depend on the volume and nature of the particular activity. A NIHR staff member will advise on the nature of the task, the payment rate offered and will also provide administrative information about the process to claim payment.

The rates of payments outlined below are based on guidance agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care. The different rates offered are intended to reflect the volume and nature of activities undertaken. Rates will be subject to periodic review and this policy will be updated accordingly.

Involvement in committees

There are four daily fee rates that are offered to public members of funding committees. The daily fee will be offered for each day of a two day meeting with a similar level of work. The rates reflect differences in the volume and nature of activities required before, during and after a meeting. The fee that will be offered for involvement in committees will be explained upon appointment.

Each of the rates covers both preparation for, and attendance at meetings. Any further activities will be agreed with your NIHR contact either on appointment or when they arise.

£150 - The usual daily rate for attending a committee or other formally constituted meeting. This includes preparation and attendance for one day.

£225 - For attendance at meetings with considerable additional preparation and responsibility (usually funding committee meetings). This includes preparation and attendance for one day.

£300 - For attendance at meetings with extensive additional preparation for the meeting (e.g. a funding committee with an exceptionally large number of proposals). This includes preparation and attendance for one day.

£450 - For attendance at and preparation for meetings involving assessment of multi- stage, complex grant applications. This includes preparation and attendance for one day.

Involvement in review

The below payment rates for the activity of reviewing funding applications and research reports reflect differences in the volume and nature of reviews. Please note that these fees do not apply to the process of reviewing funding applications as part of committee or committee meetings, which is covered in the involvement in committees section above.

£50 - Fee for completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices), for example research briefs and stage 1 or 2 applications, of no more than 50 pages in total.

£125 - Fee for completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices), for example stage 2 applications and final reports, of between 51 and 200 pages in total.

£200 - Fee for completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices), for example large reports or more than one stage 2 application, of between 201 and 400 pages in total.

£300 - Fee for completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices, original application form where relevant), for example multiple large reports or stage 2 applications, of over 401 pages in total.

Involvement in wider NIHR activities

Public contributors may be involved in a range of tasks other than being involved in committees or reviewing. This may include participating in an advisory or focus group, becoming an external reviewer, undertaking community outreach activities, participating in interview panels, co-delivering training, or a longer-term but time limited activity, such as a project team member.

£12.50 - For involvement in a task or activity such as reading and commenting on an abstract which equates to less than half an hour. For example, reviewing papers for the development of Alerts.

£25 - For involvement in a task or activity requiring little or no preparation and which equates to approximately one hour of activity or less. For example, participating in a focus group to provide feedback on a proposal or reviewing a short guidance document.

£50 - For involvement in a task or activity likely to require some preparation and which equates to approximately two hours of activity. For example, a teleconference with related papers to read or reviewing documents such as research commissioning briefs.

£75 - For involvement in a task or activity where preparation is required and which equates to approximately half a day’s activity. For example, participating in a meeting to interview candidates who have applied to join a committee, participating in a focus group, or delivering training.

£150 - For involvement in all-day meetings or training. For example, attending a committee meeting as an observer prior to becoming an active public member of a committee.

£300 - For involvement in all-day meetings that require substantial preparation For example, when chairing or co-chairing a meeting or when carrying out other discretionary work, which requires additional responsibilities.

Changes to payments offered

If the requirements of the activity are reduced because of changes initiated by NIHR, the payment amount originally offered will be honoured. If NIHR increases the activity required, the payment offered will be increased accordingly.

Exceptionally, in circumstances such as illness or an emergency, if a public contributor prepares for a meeting but is unable to attend, a nominal payment may be offered depending on the amount of preparation undertaken ahead of the meeting. Similarly, in exceptional circumstances, if a review is not completed, a nominal fee may be offered. Any changes of this type will be confirmed in writing.


NIHR will reimburse any reasonable and necessary expenses that are incurred as a result of involvement. These can include travel, accommodation and meals. There will be limits to how much can be reimbursed as expenses, and should be agreed in advance between the public contributor and NIHR staff.


If a public contributor needs to be accompanied by a paid or unpaid carer in order to attend a meeting, a personal assistant or a support worker, the travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of this person will be met by NIHR. Where a paid carer, personal assistant or support worker is working over and above any hours that are usually paid for, the public contributor may claim a reasonable hourly rate for the time that they need the additional cover. However, this must be discussed and agreed in advance with NIHR staff and provide receipts.

If, in order to attend a meeting, a public contributor needs a carer to cover for a person they normally care for, over and above any hours that are usually paid for, they may claim a reasonable hourly rate for the time that they need the additional cover. This includes care for children. However, this must be discussed and agreed with NIHR staff in advance.

Remote working costs

Some public contributors will make use of home office supplies as part of their involvement with NIHR. This might include use of a telephone or internet connection to join meetings remotely, and/ or it might include printing out papers at home that have been sent via email.

Where public contributors participate in meetings remotely from their home, we will pay a standing allowance of £5 per meeting to cover the cost of telephone calls, paper, printing ink and paper, internet connection and other home sundries.

If hard copies of any documents are required, NIHR will print and post these. If, exceptionally, a public contributor needs to print documents at home they may claim for printing at the rate of 5 pence per sheet of A4. However, for large documents (50 pages or more) this needs to be agreed in advance.

If a public contributor needs to post any items to NIHR, they may reclaim this cost. If postage amounts to £5 or more they will need to submit a receipt.

NIHR staff should call public contributors or offer to call them back so that they do not incur phone charges. To join a teleconference, we will provide a dial-in number that will be free to access, provided that the call is placed from a landline and not a mobile phone.

Communication and support needs

Where needed, information can be provided in alternative languages and formats at meetings and events. This will include the provision of information in alternative formats such as easy read or braille, and in alternative/ community languages.

Where the costs or methods of involvement are a barrier to public involvement, these needs should be discussed between the public contributor and NIHR. Reasonable adjustments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Learning and development

Occasionally public contributors may voluntarily attend an event (for example, a conference or training) because it might be beneficial for their role or recognise their contribution. In these cases, we will offer payment for their attendance and reimburse any associated costs.

Further information

If public contributors have any questions or queries about claiming payments and expenses, they should raise them with the person in NIHR involving them.